Characteristics, course and outcome of patients receiving physiotherapy in primary health care in Norway: design of a longitudinal observational project
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Health Services Research. 2018, 18 (1), 936-?. 10.1186/s12913-018-3729-y
Background Physiotherapists (PTs) in primary health care manage patients with large variation in medical diagnosis, age, functional status, disability and prognosis. Lack of knowledge and systematically collected data from patients treated by PTs in primary health care has prompted this longitudinal observational physiotherapy project. This paper aims to describe a method for developing a database of patients managed by PTs in primary health care, with the main purpose to study patients’ characteristics, treatment courses and prognostic factors for favourable outcome. Methods This is a longitudinal observational project, following patients through their physiotherapy treatment periods in primary health care in Norway and until one year after inclusion. The project involves both private practitioners and municipally employed PTs working in primary health care in nine municipalities in Norway. The patients are recruited to three different cohorts depending on age and whether they are referred to a private practitioner or a municipally employed PT. All data are recorded electronically, transferred and stored securely. For all patients we have included extensive questionnaires to obtain information about demographics, disability and function, pain-related variables, psychosocial factors, treatments and evaluation of treatment as well as response to clinical tests. The PTs have access to use their own patients’ data. We have also prepared for linkage to national patient registers and data collected in population-based studies to be able to gather further important data. Discussion This project will have important implications for physiotherapy services in primary health care. The database contains more than 3000 patients, and data collection is ongoing. Data collected so far suggest that the patients included are representative of the larger population of patients treated by private practitioners or municipally employed PTs in Norway. This large scale prospective physiotherapy project will provide knowledge about the patient groups, applied treatments and short- and long-term outcome of the patients.